Just ahead of the top ten for my favourite songs list, there’s another tough choice in picking just one My Bloody Valentine tune, but I have gone for their first Creation release, “You Made Me Realise” from 1988.
One of the most unique guitar bands of all time – and certainly the loudest – I could have selected basically anything from MBV’s flawless 1991 “Loveless” album, in particular “Soon”, “Only Shallow”, “I Only Said” or “When You Sleep”. MBV’s two other LPs are equally stocked with their dreampop genius, especially “Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)” and “(When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream” from 1998 debut “Isn’t Anything”, or “In Another Way” and “Only Tomorrow” from 2013’s unexpected comeback “m b v”. However, picking an individual song from any of these three albums would be a bit like picking a favourite child, so the stand-alone nature of “You Made Me Realise”, from their first EP on Creation, helped edge this tune forward. But it’s not just that of course – I absolutely love the primal urgency of “You Made Me Realise”, the crashing drums that announce its start and the way that this song bears the clear fingerprints of Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and The Stooges while also providing the first real introduction of the “bendy” MBV woozy guitar sound. Plus of course, the 40 seconds of shriekingly beautiful feedback halfway through that gently builds a sense of uneasy tension before the song kicks back in for its joyful conclusion, always a highlight in extended form at MBV gigs.
And it’s in concert where My Bloody Valentine become something else, a truly singular sensory event, widely considered the loudest band you can experience live. I first saw My Bloody Valentine play on the Rollercoaster tour on a Sunday night at Brixton Academy in 1992, which consisted of MBV, Dinosaur Jr, Blur and The Jesus & Mary Chain on one combined bill for £12.50, not bad at all. That was pretty early in my gig-going life but watching Dinosaur Jr followed straight after by MBV at ear-shattering volume was a formative experience, and I vividly recall feeling like I was underwater the whole of the next day due to somewhat diminished hearing, which really didn’t help me in a double French school lesson. I next saw MBV at one of their now legendary comeback gigs in June 2008 at the Roundhouse, which I think probably remains louder than the 6 or 7 MBV shows I’ve been to since – but then they’re never exactly quiet. For their 2008 gigs and subsequent tour, MBV apparently spent £200,000 on equipment and their mix of both high and low frequencies at huge amplification leads to a mind-blowing onslaught of noise that totally envelopes you.
And the apex of this noise onslaught is the traditional set closer “You Made Me Realise”, where the 40 seconds feedback break I mentioned above turns into MBV’s 15 minute plus “holocaust section” of gently shifting discordant sounds at hallucinatory loudness, before they once again resume for the song’s finale. For once I’m with Billy Corgan, who described the sensation thus: “It’s one of those things where, it was full volume and for the first three minutes it’s like “oh okay this is kind of cool”. Then you’re like “This is really too much. I wish they’d fucking stop”. And then at about 7 minutes it actually became kind of funny. And about 10 minutes in you start actually getting into it”. I can fully empathise with this reaction to the disorientating nature of the “holocaust section” and it’s always fun to see the varied audience reactions, ranging from utter disgust to pure delight, followed by a shared cathartic release as the feedback segues into the last minute proper of the swaggering “You Made Me Realise” to top the night off.
VIDEOS AND OTHER STUFF
- “You Made Me Realise” video on YouTube
- “You Made Me Realise” live on Spanish TV show Plastic
- Other great My Bloody Valentine songs that just missed out include: Soon, Only Shallow, I Only Said, When You Sleep, Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside), (When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream, In Another Way, Only Tomorrow.
- “You Made Me Realise” is not on Spotify, so is missing from my 379 to 50: 1 to 25 playlist
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